Woman who unwittingly provided clues that cracked massive Chicago burglary ring gets 6-year sentence

CHICAGO — The woman who unknowingly provided Chicago police with the break they needed to bring down a prolific burglary team suspected of breaking into hundreds of stores across the city has been sentenced to six years.

Emma Murphy, 29, pleaded guilty to six counts of burglary before Judge Charles Burns, according to court records. He handed her six years on each count, to be served concurrently.

In late 2021 and early 2022, a burglary team stalked the city, breaking into businesses ranging from corner liquor stores to the Burberry shop on Michigan Avenue, which they targeted twice. The burglars usually hit several businesses a night, working their way across the Northwest Side into Lakeview and the Mag Mile, prosecutors said.

Cops couldn’t catch a break until Murphy was involved in a car crash in Oak Park in January 2022.

The crash

Following the collision on January 17, 2022, Oak Park police discovered items inside Murphy’s car that a burglary team had allegedly taken from a FootLocker in the 2700 block of North Narragansett around 1 a.m. that same day. The price tags were still attached, and the clothes were still on their hangers, according to the allegations.

Chicago cops were particularly intrigued by a fur headband Murphy was wearing from the high-end winter clothing retailer Moose Knuckles, whose location near the Mag Mile had been targeted by late-night raiders twice.

Prosecutors charged her with burglarizing the FootLocker, breaking into a jewelry store the same day, and participating in an after-hours raid at a liquor store in the 3900 block of West Diversey.

Emma Murphy’s traffic crash in Oak Park allegedly provided the break police needed to bust a prolific retail theft burglary team. | Chicago Police Department; Yelp

Five days later, a man named Tacarre Harper stopped showing up for court for an unrelated burglary case he had pending. That may be because, prosecutors later said, surveillance video showed him burglarizing the liquor store with Murphy, who was wearing a Moose Knuckles headband in the footage.

Cops caught up with Harper, 27, three weeks later and charged him with nine counts of burglary in connection with the burglary crew operation. He was already on bond for three other felony cases in Cook County at the time of the break-ins—one for robbery, one for burglary, and one for illegal gun possession.

The following month, prosecutors charged a second man, Dion Butts, 24, with ten burglaries.

Both men received 10-year sentences this summer.

Prosecutors charged Murphy with participating in a burglary spree on January 6, 2022, that began with break-ins at two Lakeview liquor stores.

The crew left Lakeview in a Dodge Durango that, minutes later, pulled up in front of Gov. JB Pritzker’s home in the 1400 block of North Astor. Surveillance video from Pritzker’s neighbor showed four people dumping cash registers, garbage cans, and cash wrappers taken from the night’s earlier break-ins onto the street.

After unloading their trash in front of the governor’s mansion, the crew went to Burberry and pulled on its door until it broke. Prosecutors said they escaped with $80,000 worth of purses, bags, and coats.

The total haul from all of the burglaries—Butts allegedly estimated the crew committed more than 200 of them—was about $200,000, according to prosecutors.

Using the name “Raymoney Stacks” on Facebook, Harper posted videos and photos of merchandise, including a $1,995 Dolce & Gabbana purse, Gucci sunglasses, Nike merchandise still on its hangers, and a trunkload of sports gear that he offered for sale. One of the videos, which has since been removed, featured a man who looked very much like Butts.

“I got over 1,000 hats,” he said in one video.

Prosecutors alleged that other videos show Harper driving around with the crew before the break-ins. In another clip, he lined up bottles of alcohol, which he poured onto a grave.

After receiving the state’s standard 50% sentence reduction for good behavior and 614 days of credit for time spent in custody before pleading, Murphy’s parole date is set for January 8, 2025.

About Tim Hecke 365 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com